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Purana Quila provides ''Indian touch'' to Bush address

Written by: Staff

New Delhi, Mar 2 (UNI) Purana Quila, the 16th century Old Fort where US President George Bush will address Indian policymakers and industry leaders tomorrow, was almost rejected as a ''favourable venue'' on security grounds.

And what worked in favour of the historical landmark was its ''picturesque setting'' and the right ''Indian touch'' for audiences in the US who might catch the visuals live.

Indian authorities had offered the swanky Vigyan Bhavan Convention Centre and the Teen Murti Bhavan conference hall, inside the Jawaharlal Nehru museum dedicated to the nation's first prime minister, for the high-profile event.

But after days of scouting, the American officials, looking for ''just the right'' location for the address, rejected the state-of- the-art venues for the ruins just to get the ''perfect setting''.

Though the Indian officials had turned down the request on security grounds, saying ''the fort was not safe because of its openness'', the American influence prevailed.

Soon after, the protected monument underwent a facelift with a massive cleaning drive being launched, fixing of new lights and fresh pathways among other changes.

Earlier, it was proposed that Mr Bush will address a joint session of Parliament, a move which was opposed by several political parties.

Days before the Presidential visit began, scores of Indian and US personnel descended on the fort, which stands on the site where the ancient city of Indraprastha is believed to have existed, with truckloads of equipment and reviewed security of arrangements.

The Purana Quila was the citadel of the city of Dinapanah (refuge of the faithful) that Mughal emperor Humayun started building in 1533 but was completed by Sher Shah Suri, one of the enlightened rulers of Delhi who ruled during 1540-1545.

The advance team of the US Secret Service has virtually taken over the entire complex, which also houses the Delhi Zoo and boat club, which have been closed to visitors till March 4.


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